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Lots of excuses, but not enough vegetables for most Aussies

Australians say it is too difficult to get their recommended daily intake of vegetables, and almost half are not getting enough.

Of the 2 500 people surveyed by kitchenware brand Tefal, 45 per cent did not meet the recommended dose of five serves of vegetables each day.

Almost 40 per cent blamed it on a busy lifestyle, saying they don’t have time to prepare and cook vegetables.

Almost the same amount of people say they lack the culinary skills to prepare vegetables, and their lack of confidence in their abilities prevents them from trying.

Possibly the most shocking finding from the research was that 15 per cent of people said they weren’t even aware that they should be eating five serves of vegetables per day.

Dr Lyn Roberts, National CEO of the Heart Foundation told Food Magazine the figures are not surprising.

Research shows that 93% of Australian women do not eat the recommended serves of fruit and/ or veggies.

This is alarming because in general, women decide what food is eaten in the household and if women aren’t eating their fruit and veggies, chances are the rest of the family isn’t either.

She said people need to be aware that there are real health risks associated with failure to eat enough fruit and vegetables.

“Australia’s low fruit and veggie consumption is of great concern to the Heart Foundation as poor nutrition is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.”

Roberts said that while she understands the difficulty of preparing nutritious meals with busy modern lifestyles, people shouldn’t use this as a reason to rely on unhealthy foods and should not assume that because they are not a whizz in the kitchen, they can’t cook tasty, healthy meals.

“Life can be terribly demanding for some women – looking after their own families, running a household, holding down jobs and sometimes looking after ageing parents too can mean cooking from scratch is a barrier to getting dinner at a decent hour each night,” she told Food Magazine.

“We are increasingly relying on pre-prepared foods and take away foods to solve the nightly ‘what’s for dinner?’ dilemma.”

“People may be downplaying the skills they have.

“It’s easy to fall into a rut of preparing the same old meat and three veggies and if you’re doing that, it’s not a bad start. “

Roberts explained that the most difficult part for some people is where to start, and to assist, the Heart Foundation has launched Mums United, a campaign aiming to make it easier for families to be healthier.

While 15 per cent of people in the Tefal survey said they weren’t even aware of their recommended daily intake of vegetables, Roberts said these figures are not even the worst she has seen.
“In a recent Heart Foundation survey of women aged 30-44, the figures were even more alarming,” she said.

“Less than half correctly identified the minimum recommended serves of 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables.”

“While there is no shortage of cooking programs on TV showing people how to cook, we would love to see a greater emphasis on healthier ingredients that show people how easy it is prepare healthy meals.

As to whether it is this lack of knowledge that has led to Australia’s obesity epidemic, with one in four primary school aged children overweight or obese, Roberts said the cause is not simplistic, and neither is the solution.

“Australia’s weight issue has no one cause and we all need to work together to solve it.

“At work, school and at home, we are spending more time sitting down and being inactive than ever before.

“Even our kids are not as active as they once were – often spending time watching TV or using computers rather than playing outside.

“We are eating out of home more often and healthier choices aren’t always available.

“We are increasingly relying on pre-prepared and take away foods and as a result we have lost perspective on portion sizes and the foods that make up a healthy balanced diet.

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